It is a well-worn cliché: It is not what you know, but rather, who you know. And most importantly, it is who knows that you know what you know. But Marissa Bland, Director of Career Development and Internships, believes the cliché’s persistence is simply due to its accuracy. Bland’s staff aims to provide networking and career-planning opportunities for William Jewell students through initiatives like career planning courses, interest inventories, resume reviews, mock interviews, internship notices, job postings and activities to guide students as they identify their long term goals.
This month, the office is directing its focus on this semester’s Career Mentor Program participants. The program aims to facilitate relationships between Jewell students and professional mentors in the Kansas City metropolitan area. Bland maintains that the Career Mentor Program differs from a typical job or internship, as the primary intention of the program is for the student to shadow, connect with and learn from the professional mentor.
Participating students are expected to set aside at least ten hours to building and maintaining a relationship with their matches over the course of the term and set their own goals for the mentorship.
“This success of an individual mentor-student relationship is very much dependent on what the students put into it – participants are expected to make initial contact with their mentors and organize all interactions. They set goals for what they wish to gain in the process and ensure their own success by interacting with their mentor,” Bland said.
The program is designed to provide opportunities for students to explore different career tracks, work settings and professions, as well as learn from an experienced professional who shares similar interests and goals.
“These mentors are very well-connected in the Kansas City area, and they are also very passionate about helping students. A lot of times, they wish that they had mentors when they were younger and just starting out, and want to be a resource for [students],” Bland said, “And they can work with their mentor for many different reasons. There are typically three different outcomes for students: one, the student realizes, ‘Yes! This is exactly what I want to do after I graduate from Jewell, and this professional helped me actualize my plans’; two, the student learns about the intricacies of a profession, like the nitty-gritty things you usually do not see, and decides to pursue a different path; or three – while we make it clear that it is not the intention of the program – students can end up with jobs or internships out of their mentor experiences.”
Stephanie Mullen, senior, has participated in the program and now works in the Office of Career Development and Internships.
“As an employee of the department, I get to see firsthand what a great program this is, and it is one of which students should be more aware. Students here [at William Jewell] tend to get so wrapped up in their specific organizations and classes that they lose sight of their futures. This program gets them thinking about their career options and lets them see what the ‘real world’ is like,” Mullen said.
Interested students will begin the process this March even though the mentorship technically begins at the start of the fall semester.
“Any student can apply for the program in their current semester, and then he or she would be eligible for the next semester. For example, if you apply before the March 25, 2015 deadline, then you could do the program in the fall of 2015. Basically, the student applying simply tells the Office what their future career interests are, and then they are matched with a commission member – a professional or alumni who works with our office – who then, in turn, matches the student with a professional in the desired career field,” Mullen said. “It is a process that truly focuses on the individual student’s needs and wants.”
Students interested in applying for the fall Career Mentor Program can access the program requirements and application on the Office of Career Development and Internships website or visit Suite 218 on the top floor of Yates-Gill College Union. Applications and required corresponding materials are due Mar. 25 no later than 5:00 PM.